How to Monitor Blood Pressure at Home

How to Monitor Blood Pressure at Home

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, careful and regular monitoring of blood glucose levels takes center stage and was probably the first thing you were taught. Almost as important, but recommended less prominently: you should be monitoring your blood pressure at home, which can help you manage high blood pressure and prevent long-term complications from diabetes.

Most people with diabetes develop high blood pressure during their life. Some of the more serious complications from high blood pressure that you face if you also suffer from diabetes are:

  • Eye disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Coronary artery disease (heart disease)
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral vascular disease (hardening of arteries in legs and feet)
  • Heart failure

Because diabetes and high blood pressure often go hand-in-hand, these are complications that impact the diabetes community much more frequently. Awareness is crucial to prevention, and home blood pressure monitoring is the most effective tool for staying on top of high blood pressure.

How home blood pressure monitoring helps diabetics

If you have diabetes, regular and accurate monitoring is required to ensure your blood pressure is being managed effectively. Advantages of home blood pressure testing include optimal convenience because no trips to the doctor's office are necessary, and the ability to easily and accurately take multiple readings per day, to better arrive at a conclusive result. Studies have also pointed to home blood pressure monitoring as more accurate than monitoring conducted at a doctor's office.

A “Call to Action” released from a partnership of the American Heart Association, the American Society for Hypertension, and the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association has recommended that anyone with known, suspected or substantially increased risk of high blood pressure, including those with diabetes, make home blood pressure monitoring part of their life. Key procedural points of this recommendation for home monitoring include:

  1. An oscillometric monitor that measures blood pressure on the upper arm is the most accurate device to use.
  2. Precise cuff fit is crucial to receiving accurate readings. Special-order cuffs can be ordered for some monitors, if fit is a problem.
  3. Avoid eating, drinking alcohol or caffeine, using tobacco, bathing, or exercising for at least half an hour prior to measurement.
  4. While resting and seated, 2-3 readings in a row should be taken, then average the numbers to reach a result (many monitors will do this automatically). Do this once in the morning and once in the evening for a week to reach a baseline number.
  5. Talk with your doctor or health care provider about the results and come up with a plan of action if your blood pressure is too high.

Awareness is the key to prevention

Having an accurate and convenient technique in place like home blood pressure monitoring is essential to managing high blood pressure and preventing more serious complications. When you have diabetes, you are already more susceptible to problems – home blood pressure monitoring is one tool to tip the balance back toward improved heath and longevity.